University of Illinois announces plan for Illinois Wrestling Training Facility


Courtesy of Division of Intercollegiate Athletics

Department of Intercollegiate Athletics’ recent rendering of future Illinois wrestling training center.

By Jonathan Alday, Assistant Sports Editor

After nearing the completion of upgrades to the Ubben Basketball Facility, Athletic Director Josh Whitman and the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics announced the unveiling of the Illinois Wrestling Training Center, which is set to open in late 2025, pending approval by the Board of Trustees.

The facility comes with a $14 million dollar price tag and is set to be located just south of the State Farm Center, across from St. Mary’s Road. The department noted that they do not use public funds for the project. Whitman said he’s raised over $10 million in private donations, with the rest coming from other DIA revenue, particularly ticket sales and other sales.

The new building will be 19,000 square feet, which includes a wrestling room with three mats, strength and conditioning and sports medicine facilities, team locker room, coaches’ locker room and offices and a multipurpose meeting room.

“(Natural lighting has) become a real focal point,” Whitman said, highlighting the similar values of Illinois football’s Smith Center and Illinois basketball’s Ubben Practice Facility.

The project has been years in the making, Whitman saying that the original Huff Hall facility was long past what is  “needed and expected” for the wrestling program.

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The location was chosen due to the proximity to State Farm Center, which now hosts home Illinois wrestling meets. The University of Illinois also hosts the IHSA Wrestling State Championship, giving coaches an easy transition to show recruits when competing.

“We are the place to be,” head wrestling coach Mike Poeta said.  “We’ve always had exceptional wrestlers, we’ve exceptional recruits that want to be a part of the Illinois wrestling program, we’ve had exceptional coaches. Even with all of this, no one could see Illinois wrestling as the beacon. With this facility we are now the beacon.”

“We’re honored and we’re humbled to invest in the future of Illinois wrestling,” Ron Domanico, one of the major donors to the project.  “Attract, develop and retain some of the elite student-athletes in this state, in this nation … and in the world.”

Illinois wrestling has a long and storied history of success, with multiple All-Americans, National Champions and Qualifiers in recent memory. While many current wrestlers will not get the chance to use it as Illinois athletes, Whitman said they’ll have access to that facility to assist them in their training for global competitions.

“We’re truly going to have the best facility in country,” redshirt sophomore All-American Lucas Byrd said.

“It’s almost like a sense of pride that we’ve help built this program,” redshirt junior Danny Braunagel said.  “It’s a home for us.”



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